5 ‘Little Foxes’ that Damage a Marriage by Kelly R. Baker

Have you heard of the allegorical foxes that spoil the vine?

My mother used to quote Song of Songs 2:15 to my brother and me growing up, as part of teaching us how to treat people. She continued to remind me of this verse when my husband Justin and I started butting heads early on in our relationship.

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” ~Song of Songs 2:15 ESV

Damage Marriage

I got to the point where I hated hearing again about the [insert mocking voice] “little foxes that spoil the vine.” 😉

But as I grew to love the life-changing truths of the Word, I increasingly appreciated the wisdom of this verse.

As I grew to love God's Word, I increasingly appreciated God's wisdom. #changedmylife Click To Tweet

The Fable of the Foxes

Let’s suppose for a moment that the vineyard is your marriage relationship. A vineyard bears fruit, so let’s say the fruit on the vine is the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control between you and your spouse. Finally, let’s call the foxes the obvious division-makers, such as adultery or physical abuse.

But what about the little foxes? They are the ones we barely tend to pay any attention. Those hurt the marriage, too.

Here are five small foxes that can create extensive damage …

1. The nitpicking fox.

Arguments happen. I get that. However, allow me to give you some advice that someone gave me lots of times, but maybe you’ll catch on sooner: pick your battles. This means you don’t need to start an argument over the little nitpicky issues of life. When your spouse leaves his plate sitting on the table after eating, and it irks you, choose to let it go. However, if your love maxed out the credit card on a whim, then a discussion is probably in order.

2. The unappreciated fox.

Mundane tasks fall to your lot week-in and week-out. It goes a long way to thank the other person. For Christmas this past year, I tucked a thank you card into my husband’s stocking. In it, I listed every tiny task I could think of that he does for our family down to replacing batteries. I even noted solitary occasions such as going to the store late at night for medicine when someone in the family was sick. By the time he finished reading the card, we were both blinking back tears.

3. The second fiddle fox.

The truth about time is you don’t have time but you make time for what’s important to you. If you want a healthy marriage, then your spouse needs to be a priority. Your mate is going to know it if s/he is unimportant to you. Nobody likes to feel like last night’s leftovers. Let your spouse know your relationship matters by keeping a weekly date night, even if it’s in-house.

4. The disrespect fox.

Doesn’t it feel great when you’re asked for your opinion? And even better when your opinion influences the asker? Ask your spouse’s advice. This can be a tough one for the wife that wants to change her husband (been there, done that). Even if you don’t like what the answer is, you can glean from different points of view. Genuinely ask how your other half feels about various matters. If you respond with respect, you will grow closer together.

5. The unvalued fox.

In Bible times, a Roman law stated that a soldier could command a Jew to carry his pack for one mile. Jesus said to take it for two, instead. The longer you’re married to your spouse, the easier it can be to take the other person for granted. Small favors translate into tremendous value. They shout, “You’re valuable to me!” Choose to honor your mate through minor acts of service. e.g., Make his or her side of the bed. It takes three seconds.

These little foxes will damage the love between you and your spouse. Destroy them before they destroy your marriage. Letting go of trivial matters that irk, appreciating your mate, prioritizing time together, honoring, and valuing your spouse will make your marriage relationship strong.

Find out how to catch these 5 'little foxes' in your marriage. S of S 2:15 Click To Tweet

 

Kelly R. Baker is a Bible study teacher, writer, and mentor. She serves with her husband in leading the worship ministry at their church. You will probably find her sneaking a bite (or more) of organic dark chocolate in between wrangling her four kids. Her greatest passion is leading women to thrive in Christ. Connect with her at www.kellyrbaker.comI (Beth), for one, can tell you, you’ll be glad you did!

 

What other “little foxes” threaten your relationship?

 

Which of the five “little foxes” do you struggle with the most?

 


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  • Erica

    Thanks for sharing! I feel that you may be inside my home writing this. The daily activities create an environment for us to just go about our business with out checking in with one another often. We forget about the little things. I feel the disrespect fox creeping up and have been more aware of opportunities to change my tone and soften my words. Run my words through my head first before I spit them out at my husband.

    • That sounds like a good plan, Erica, and it will not go unnoticed. Tone is important. That could be a little fox all in itself!

  • Melissa Gendreau

    These are such important ‘little foxes’ to be aware of. Too many little things can corrode a marriage such as much as one large issue.

    • So true, Melissa! And it’s often the little things that add up to the big ones.

  • Rebecca Jones

    You know I have heard that verse misquoted, I pray the Lord helps us to set up little fox traps, I notice them more and more as I pay attention to what others say and do.

    • Yes, may we pay attention to the little things. I like how you put that, Rebecca, asking the Lord to put up fox traps. He will show us how and what to do in detailed ways.

  • Beth, thanks again for sharing your space with me today! I’ve enjoyed getting to know you through your site and our email conversations. I hope we can meet in person one day. That would be a treat! Blessings, friend!

    • You are more than welcome, Kelly! I love your blog and your wise-beyond-your-years wisdom, my friend! I’m just to pumped to have you share some of it here at my space! Gotta spread the good around, am I right?! 😉

      And yes, that would be oh so lovely! I’ve met a few bloggers in person, even rooming with one at She Speaks this past summer (Sarah Geringer), so I hope to add you to my list of face-to-face meet ups! Thank you again, my friend!

  • Karen

    Thanks for this great advice. It takes on a different impact when you think about the habits we allow into our lives like pests that tear up a beautiful garden. Time to stake up some stronger fences!

  • Karen Del Tatto

    Kelly, I love how you used the fruits of the spirit as the vineyard and combined them with the “little foxes” that can undermine a marriage.

    Great insights here and much wisdom.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • karen, recently I’ve been drawn to the phrase “of the Spirit.” Sometimes we try to do things in our own strength. In that case it would be “of Kelly.” But the fruit comes from God, thus, “of the Spirit.” We only need to stay attached to the vine!

  • It seems it’s the small crack in the pavement we trip over. Good example of the little foxes.

    • Yes, the small things that trip us up. Sometimes we need to take a magnifying glass to them so we can really see and then do what God leads us to do!

  • I love word pictures like this. Great post Kelly! Those are certainly foxes to be careful of in marriage.

    • Valerie, I’m so grateful for my mother for teaching me this principle while I was growing up. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Kelly, this is great! (And Beth, thanks for letting Kelly visit with us today.)

    Too ill to write much, but I should say that one of my little foxes is pride…if I can still keep going, being this sick, how is it that YOU are bailing on this job?

    It’s terribly unfair, because pain and energy levels are very individual, and beyond the broadest scope can’t be gauged by another.

    • Pride seems to be at the root of many issues. But love? Love covers a multitude of sins. Choosing to love daily helps. It helps when that other person doesn’t understand because they haven’t walked a mile in our shoes. Knowing that, to me at lease, is a comfort in a way. Prayers for you, Andrew, and God bless!

  • This is so vivid! Thanks, Kelly and Beth, for teaming up to help us safeguard our marriages!

    • Michele, I remember reading your comment at my site about approaching 30 years of marriage. How wonderful! If we could all safeguard our marriages we would have long and lasting ones like you have had. May you have many more, friend!

  • Julie Loos

    This was great, Kelly! I think all of those little foxes are present from time to time in our marriage. They might appear cute on the outside but can wreck major havoc!

    • That’s true. We can look at a couple and think they have it altogether, but no one is exempt from the little foxes. It’s the ones who are careful to catch them that will stay strong!

  • pioneerpat1

    Number 1. My mate is always nitpicking and I have realized the reason why and it is because she craves control. It is easier to pick out every little thing because she controls the situation. I don’t say anything when she does it because I know the reason behind it.

    • And yet there could be a deeper issue. For example, a lady I know would try to control everything around her while her mother was dying—because she couldn’t control that. Not to say that is what is happening with your mate, but that’s just a thought that came to me. Maybe pray and ask God if there is an underlying “root” to that control.

  • Those little foxes can be so nagging. Just when you think you’re in the clear, one of them will pop back in. I’ve been married for 25 years to the most wonderful man, but even this week, those same little foxes have reappeared. May we all stay diligent. Thanks for this important reminder!

    • Agreed, Lisa! We must stay diligent. Have a great weekend!

  • Very applicable little foxes! True in most relationships – not just marriage. Great stuff!